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“Agriculture News: Prussic acid poisoning could show in frost-injured grassesPrussic acid poisoning could show in frost-injured grasses” By James E. Engbrock County Extension Agent Emeritus Matagorda County

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      Agricultural Situation
     Matagorda County received significant moisture this past week, from reports I have received 2-3 inches, was recorded over a large portion of the county. 
   An uncommon scene also occurred in the form of snow here. 
   This moisture should be ample for crop producers until fall fertilization has occurred. 
   Of course additional moisture will be needed after the applying of fertilizer for our spring crops. 
   With the heavy frost most of our grasses will go dormant in our pastures for the winter or a period of time, depending on future weather conditions. 
   If you have Johnson grass or plants like that refer to my article on Prussic Acid below. 
      Prussic Acid Poisoning
   Prussic acid poisoning is also called hydrocyanic acid or cyanide poisoning. 
   Cyanogenic compounds can develop in plants that are stressed; in the rumen the compounds are converted to cyanide, which can kill livestock.
   Livestock can show symptoms of intoxication within five minutes of eating plants with the poison, and may die within 15 minutes. 
   Salivation and labored breathing occur first, followed by muscular tremors, uncoordinated movements, bloating, convulsions and death from respiratory failure.
   Prussic acid can accumulate in plants in the sorghum family, such as johnsongrass, sudangrass, forage sorghums and grain sorghum. 
   It appears to occur when plants are injured by frost. 
   Severe drought stress can also cause prussic acid to form.
High concentrations may be associated with rapid growth, such as shortly after a rain irrigation on previously drought-stressed fields, or warm weather after a cool period. 
   Under good conditions, toxic concentrations can also form in young, rapidly growing plants. Prussic acid dissipates from plant properly cured for hay.
To prevent prussic acid poisoning:
   If plants have been damaged by frost, defer grazing until they either are well recovered from injury or cut for hay, or after a killing freeze and the plants have been allowed to dry.
   Do not graze plants in the sorghum family until they are 2 to 3 feet tall.
   Remove all livestock from the feed source when an animal is found to have died suddenly after grazing forages under poor growing conditions.
   After plants have grown rapidly, such as shortly after a rain irrigation on previously drought-stressed fields or warm weather after a cool period, wait at least 2 weeks after the plants begin to grow before grazing.
   This information was supplied by, Vanessa Corriher-Olson, Forage Extension Specialist, Soil & Crop Sciences, in Overton.
Regional Cattlemen’s Workshop
   Just a reminder of the Regional Cattlemen’s Workshop and Trade Show, to be held on Friday Jan. 19, at the Bay City Civic Center. 
   We will provide you with additional information next week.

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